VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — Saddiq Bey hit four 3-pointers and scored 14 points and Jermaine Samuels had 20 points to lead No. 9 Villanova to a 76-61 win over No. 13 Butler on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats (15-3, 5-1 Big East) methodically pulled away in the second half in a game in which neither team shot particularly well. Villanova led by 11 late in the game despite a 1-for-7 shooting slump; still enough to protect the lead with the Bulldogs on a 1 of 10 slump.
The anticipated matchup between two of the supposed best in the Big East lost a bit of luster when the Bulldogs (15-4, 3-3) lost consecutive games to Seton Hall and DePaul. Except for a couple of brief pockets, the Bulldogs couldn't score against a Villanova defense that had tightened up of late and had held teams to 63.3 points over the last seven games. The Wildcats have won five straight and 11 of 12 to again prove the conference title runs through the Main Line, especially at the Pavilion, where they improved to 27-1 in Big East games since 2013.
Kamar Baldwin led the fading Bulldogs with 21 points. Butler missed 15 of 20 3-pointers.
Baldwin shook off a lackluster first half, scoring 10 in the first nine minutes of the second to bring the Bulldogs within four. Baldwin, though, picked up his third foul around the same time and the rally flickered out. Justin Moore hit Villanova's ninth 3 to stretch the lead to 11 and the Wildcats were on their way to a sweep of a four-game homestead (two at Nova; two in Philadelphia).
The Wildcats only on-campus loss at the Pavilion since the Big East was reconfigured in 2013 was against Butler on Feb. 22, 2017. Baldwin scored 15 points in the 74-66 victory and entered Tuesday averaging 18.2 points this season in Big East games. Butler's leading scorer was an absolute non-factor early against the Wildcats, and so was No. 2 option Sean McDermott. They combined for just five points in the half and watched the Wildcats take a 36-26 lead into halftime.
The Wildcats kept possessions alive with offensive rebounds (eight in the first half) and they needed all of them — there were plenty of misses. Villanova missed its first five 3s and 10 of 11 shots overall, but Butler couldn't do much offensively to pounce on the scoring drought. Bey and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who scored 12 points, snapped the cold spell with consecutive 3s and the Wildcats finished with six in the half.
Butler: What's up with the Bulldogs? Butler has lost three straight games, and could fall out of the Top 25 on Monday. The Bulldogs have allowed 76-plus points in all three losses. The Bulldogs also lost forward Christian David to a knee injury in the first half. David went down hard under the net and needed assistance off the court.
Villanova: The Big East is a beast this season, with three teams in the first 15 spots of the Top 25, but the Wildcats are still the team to beat.
Butler: Hosts Marquette on Friday.
Villanova: At Providence on Saturday.
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